Though you won’t hear them on your commercial radio station of choice, U.S. Girls may have made the most vital and necessary pop songs of 2018. On the endlessly compelling In a Poem Unlimited, Meghan Remy—an Illinois native who decamped to Canada years ago—delivers eleven cuts of undeniable disco, built around the alternately innocuous and evil ways men exert control on a world meant to be shared. The shimmering “M.A.H.” explores the Obama legacy and how a seemingly dashing gentleman could let so many people down, perpetuating eternal warfare and telling continual lies; during the pulsating “Poem,” she distills the struggles itinerant in the #MeToo movement and our technology-gripped age to concerns of common decency and questions about how far we have managed to fall.
U.S. Girls did not begin with such clear hooks and bright production. On 2010’s Go Grey, Remy pushed almost every song through a sheet of noise, distortion hovering around every note in a home-recorded haze. Though she had pulled away some of the cobwebs for 2015’s Half Free, the perfect dub rhythm of its anthem, “Damn That Valley,” still ricocheted through noise. But there were always refrains, phrases to find and hold close despite the din. But on In a Poem Unlimited, Remy at last pushes them to the forefront, turning them not just into keepsakes but into perfectly catchy melodies. This is music for fighting—the patriarchy, traditional power structures, those who let you down—and feeling good when you have to keep up that fight for longer than expected.